Bad Day; Good Life

Today was one of those days.  One of those rotten, awful, bad days.  Yesterday, I talked about making memories, well, today was the kind of day that I don’t care to remember.

I started the day at 5 AM and by 7:55 AM I had already given one poopy child a bath.  By 3 PM, I had JUST finished my only cup of coffee and had cleaned poop off of three separate children four times and had redressed two of those kids twice!  You following??  I cleaned up a pee puddle in the kitchen and Play Doh in the dining room.  By 6 PM, I was making dinner and discovering my lunch in the microwave, and by 8 PM, I had scrubbed Eden’s carpet twice and stripped two different kids’ beds.  I washed, dried, and folded two loads of laundry, loaded and emptied the dishwasher twice before hubs came home and did it a third time.  I showered while he set the kids up for dinner, and that was only because, in my exhausted stupidity, I grabbed the hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven glass Pyrex dish with my bare hand, so I had “had it” and needed a breather.  I vacuumed the second floor for the third time this week and changed our sheets, because I have been sleeping on cake crumbs for two days.  (The Bigs were just trying to “get away from Eden” while they ate their cake, and our bed seemed like a good place to hide.)  Miri has been crying all afternoon/evening because I caved and ate chocolate yesterday.  After this day, it’s taking all of my willpower not to dive into what’s left of the chocolate raspberry meltaway egg. It’s now 9:45 PM and I can’t touch another dish or toy.  The house is just going to have to look like the post-dinner mess that it is for the rest of the night.

Tomorrow, we start all over again, and I am praying that it goes much better than today has gone.  I love my babies.  I enjoy them.  Today was rotten, but I kept rolling that quote around in my head about it being a bad day, good life, just so I could maintain my sanity.  It worked about 80% of the time.  The other 20% I had to try to control the cursing in my head.  I kept coming up with phrases that included a whole lot of potty talk, like, “It’s not the pits, just the s***s.”  Because well, as Isla admitted, today was donned the “Poopy Day”.  I mean…who has to clean up poop like six times in ONE day?!  Ok, I’m sure some people do, but I can’t.  I just can’t.  It’s where I draw the line!  *Sigh*

So, anyway, if you had a crappy day, literally or figuratively or both…I’m sorry.  I feel for you, mama.  Tomorrow will be better.  It HAS to be better.  Just remember this:

Father God, I come to you as a tired, exhausted mess of a woman.  Please forgive me for my shortcomings today and for my impatience with everyone in my household.  I pray for grace and strength to do better tomorrow.  Help me to grow my children up in a household built on love and understanding.  I invite you, Holy Spirit to bring peace to our home in a deeper way.  Help us to feel Your presence and follow your lead in every moment of the day, especially the rough and yucky ones.  Help us to see this day for what it was, just a messy one, and help me to enter tomorrow with a new and refreshed perspective, rested and recharged, ready to take on the day.  Thank you for my family.  It is a gift that I treasure.  Let my words to them tomorrow be words of kindness, life and hope.  When I am tempted to yell, I ask that you would be there and give me wisdom on how to handle whatever challenges I am facing as a mother and wife in a more Christ-like way.  Help me to make our home a sanctuary for these people that I love.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

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Memories over Milestones

My precious Miri is 10 weeks old today.  As I sat looking at her the other night, trying to coax her into a smile, I found myself already wondering when she’d start to giggle.  She waved her little hands around and when they met mine, they paused, and I thought, “Did she try to touch me on purpose?  I wonder when she will reach for my face.  Is this a milestone that I should record?”

Suddenly, I was thinking of Ava, our five year old.  She’s so grown up, so well-spoken, so…not a baby anymore.  My heart felt a little broken at the realization that I spend (and had already spent) too much precious time thinking about the “what’s next” and sacrificing the “now”.

Ava begins Kindergarten in the fall, and Isla will be going to preschool for the first time.  Our home will be different.  I will be missing two little people throughout the day.  My home will be a lot quieter.  Our lazy Tuesdays and Thursdays will no longer be just that.  Instead, we will be in the car for most of the morning and our schedule will never be as free as it is now.  We will long for summer days just to have the blessed time that I have been taking for granted.

When will this one walk?  We have to get that one potty-trained.  She’ll be eating rice cereal next month, so maybe I should start stocking up now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if they stayed in their own beds all night…

I catch myself thinking about such things often.  Too often.  I need, we need, to soak up the now.  I need to sit and listen to Isla’s conversations, because all too soon, her little accents and quirks will have faded, and she’ll be as well-spoken as her sister.  I need to relish in Ava’s nose-kisses and the way she wants to be touching me in some way at all times, because she’s growing more and more independent every day, and maybe tomorrow will be the day she decides she’s “too big” for that stuff.  I need to hold Miri on my chest, and feel her weightiness that’s comprised of nothing but squishy baby rolls, because those rolls melt faster than any mama wants them to.  I need to enjoy the way her feathery, little mohawk tickles my chin when I hold her, because, if she’s anything like her sisters, it’ll be down to her shoulders faster than I can blink, and I’ll be trying to convince her to let me brush it.  I need to chase Eden around the house in her disastrous potty-training nakedness, and tickle her belly and pinch her bum cheeks, because this hilarious, albeit messy, stage won’t last long, and she’ll be taking herself to the bathroom like my big girls do.

I just need to live in the now.  It’s one of those things that you tell yourself, and that others will remind you to do…”Enjoy them.”  And you think, “Yeah, yeah.  I know”, but then, you get caught up in preparing for everything else that’s coming.  And before you know it, another day has ended.  Another day will have gone by without you savoring the moments.  We’re too worried about the schedules, and the checklists, and the milestones, and we’re sacrificing the memories.  I don’t care to dwell on the future as much from here on out.  We’ll work towards what we need to work towards for the children to be healthy, safe, and on-track developmentally, but I’m tired of using my mental space as a to-do list when it should simply be used in being present.

Will you join me in being present today?  Stop thinking about summer vacation or school in the fall.  Stop wondering when baby will sit-up when you just need to be enjoying her newness.  Stop getting frustrated if your potty-training tot just “isn’t getting it”.  Instead, savor the sight of ornery little tushies running wild and making messes with the toilet paper.  Sit and record every expression.  Write their quotes on the tablet of your heart.  Play a game or build a puzzle and take a moment to touch their hand and take in how soft they are.  Even at five, my sweet girl still has darling, pudgy, dimpled fingers.  I need to pay attention to those details before they are gone, and I have a house full of little women and not little ones.  Read a story and smell their hair.  They all have their own, sweet smell beneath that maple syrup…  Enjoy them, right now, mama.  I appreciate you reading this, but close up your laptop, put down your phone for a few, forget about those mile markers, and go make a memory. xoxoxo

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For the Overwhelmed Mom of Multiples

Hey there, Mama. Are you tired? Did you spend your day kind of wondering how to get your Littles under control? Do you yo-yo back and forth between feeling like Supermom and a total failure? Do you stare at those little faces looking up at you and wonder how someone so beautiful, so innocent, so small could cause you to feel more overwhelmed and underprepared than you did the morning of taking the SATs?

Seriously. I get you. I am you. 

I am an overwhelmed mom.
I forget doctor’s appointments, I walk into rooms and stand there, completely forgetting why I am there, and I take long showers just to find ten minutes of peace. I lose my cool over the whining, and I cry over spilled milk. And you know what I have come to realize…
I am overwhelmed but don’t have to be.

That’s right.

I don’t have to be. I don’t have to feel this way.

How do I know this?

Well, it’s a little something…a BIG something called perspective. It really does change everything.

Lately, I have felt so frazzled and just all over the place, mentally, emotionally… My mothering of these precious people has suffered greatly, because of exhaustion and impatience. Every two seconds (and I am NOT exaggerating) it’s “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” Their “Mommy-Do” List is longer than my “Honey-Do” List! Really. And it’s annoying sometimes, you know?

I found myself snapping at one of my kids not too long ago. I can’t remember what it was over. I know that they were doing something that I just found irritating. Like being too silly at an inopportune time or something like that. Totally not a big deal, but I caught myself making it a big deal. That’s when this thought occurred to me…


“Kristi, remember when it was just Ava? Would this behavior have annoyed you?”

And you guessed it, that answer was a blaring “No.”

It didn’t even take a lot of pondering. It was not that big of a deal. Even the biggest of deals wouldn’t have ruffled my feathers when it was just one child. So, it hit me…

They aren’t the problem. They are just being silly, funny, goofy, lively KIDS. You, my dear, are the one looking at it differently…negatively.

Yes, multiplying your children will definitely shorten your nerves and attention span, BUT, the root of the issue is worth recognizing and addressing. At least it has been for me. Just like I mentioned in a previous post regarding birth order and parenting, I believe that taking a minute to imagine the scenario you’re facing under different circumstances can possibly change everything, and change it for the better.  Sometimes, as parents, our perspectives stink just as badly as that pile of poopy diapers in the corner.  (Mine are actually piling up in the girls’ bathroom, but that’s beside the point…)

It really does work. Making a conscious effort to remove the behavior from the rest of the context of your day and your life and see it for what it really is can be such a reality check.

I know that reactions/responses are sometimes at the mercy of our schedules and other children, but when we have the chance to slow down and approach something a little differently during the day, I say, let’s try it!

For example:

Your firstborn asks if she can help you bake cookies. Of course! How sweet! Some mommy-daughter bonding time.

Your second of four asks the same question. Maybe next time, honey. Mommy has so much to do right now.

Maybe I am in a hurry, and my response is innocent, but I still could see myself having involved Ava at that age in some way or another, and I most-likely would have initiated the involvement in the first place.

That may be a poor example, but I hope that I am conveying my heart correctly here. Honestly speaking…children are time-consuming, and since our days just slip by so quickly, it may be so easy to brush them off and avoid certain activities altogether. Throw in sleepless nights, tending to infants, potty-training toddlers, cleaning up after pre-schoolers, and it’s really no wonder that we snap at the 25th “Mommy!!!” when it used to take 150 times to even remotely drive us buggy.

Truth be told, our subsequent children are growing up with a drastically different dynamic present than their oldest sibling experienced, and it’s our responsibility, as their mamas and papas, not to rob them of the joys of being little, simply because the plate is full and what’s left of the brain is overflowing.

At this point in my journey, as a mother to four, there are simply more of them and less of me. Oh, how it shows. Often. But my new mission in 2015 is to make each little person in my care feel like the ONLY person in my world while I am interacting with them, even if it’s just for that two whole seconds when they’re asking me for their fourth breakfast of the morning or the (what seems like forever) 25 minutes it takes for me to watch as they show me how they can put a 18-piece puzzle together.

I am more and more convinced every day that mothering is the most involved “job” on earth, and yes, it can be so overwhelming, but…my new motto serves to remind me…it doesn’t have to be.

So, when you feel overwhelmed today, take these steps:

1 – Stop.  Stop what you are doing and thinking.
2 – Reflect upon happier/easier times of focusing on one person.  Ask yourself, “Would this behavior/situation have made me frazzled then?”
3 – If the answer is “no”, redirect your own thoughts and responses so that you leave the little one feeling loved and yourself feeling like Mom of the Year.  (Or at least Mom of the Moment. 😉 ) *If the answer is “yes”, then by all means proceed in acting like a ninny.
4 – Give that little stinker a big squeeze, because you probably need it more than they do!

You’re not alone in this thing, mama.  I’m just one gray hair away…

And…if you just scrubbed poo off of your toddler’s bedroom carpet, like I just did, then you are really not alone.  We may be tired.  We may be cranky at times, but we’ve got this!  It’s in the bag.  Like the poo… xo

Need a few more laughs?
Check out these posts next.  I think they’ll make you feel better!

Confessions of a Mother of Multiples
I Owe Them JOY
I’ll Find It…Go to Bed
That Took For-everrrr
It’s a Mom’s Life

One of my most popular posts and another perspective changer:
Bedtime Lessons the Change Everything

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Dear Baby

**The following post is one of my first published works.  It can be found in the paperback, New Life Within:  Real Babies.  Real Moms.  Real Stories.  It was such an honor to be approached for this project, and even more so to be one of just two proofreaders selected to assist the editor prior to printing.  Thank you in advance for reading.  Hope it blesses you.

Dear Baby,

How could I have known how you were going to change my life?

I used to spend hours in front of a mirror; I’d brush my hair, my long, thick hair. I’d paint my nails, and lotion my legs after a long, hot bath. I knew every freckle, every scratch, every detail of myself. After all, who else did I have to pay attention to every day and night? Then, you came into my world, and I have traded those tendencies for a new form of pampering. You. I would trade every beauty tool, every manicure, bubble bath…anything…to spend my time running tired fingers through your feather-soft curls, scrubbing your teeny, little toes as you splash me wildly with lukewarm bath water, massaging lavender-scented baby cream all over your sweet, soft skin. I have memorized every inch of your God-painted canvas. I know that you have a second piggy on that pudgy little foot that bends slightly to the left, and I could draw that little, round birthmark with my eyes closed. You are precious to me. How could I have ever known just how precious to me you would be?

I sang to you in the car every morning on the drive to work. Before I knew if you were a girl or boy, and you were a wriggling little bean in an ever-expanding bump, I’d sing. It was my time to be loud – to be quiet. I’d sing to you, for you, at you. Sometimes I would sing to you a praise song at the top of my voice, and other times, I’d whisper you a lullaby. How would I have ever known that those car ride serenades would seem so small in comparison to the songs to come? As I cradled your newborn body in my arms each night, singing over your tininess…I would melt inside at the awesome revelation that God says He sings over me too. Just as I sang over you, He sings over us. (Zephaniah 3:17) That alone would have been enough to make motherhood amazing, but then, you got a little bigger, and one night, you decided to sing my song to you right back to me. How could I have ever known that your voice would make such an imprint on my soul? That the soundtrack of my happiness would come from your lips?

Your innocence is the light in my world.  Your laughter, my favorite sound.  I thought I was creative, until I heard you playing make-believe and realized that your imagination is genius.  You read my eyes and know me.  You heard my heart beating from the inside, and somehow, I think you always will.

You call me “Mommy.” I call you “tangible joy.” You call me “Mother.” I call you “Baby.” You call me ‘Mama.” I call you “Angel.”

No one on earth loves me like you do. No one on earth needs me like you do. No one on earth sees me like you do. I say ‘earth’, because I know where your love for me comes from. It comes from the same heart that has gifted me with my love for you. God. I have loved you with an everlasting love. You love, because I first loved you. (Jeremiah 31:3 and 1 John 4:19)

Dear Baby, I don’t know what life has in store for you and me, but if what has been is any indicator as to what is coming…I know it will be nothing short of Heaven.

Confessions of a Mother of Multiples…

First baby:

The baby is everything. You are one with the baby. You wake up thinking about baby. You take your 600th belly picture in the mirror as soon as you step out of bed. You admire your maternity clothes and can’t wait to wear them. You push your ‘bump’ out at 12 weeks, convincing yourself that you are ready for those panty-hose-topped-pants. You wear them shamelessly to work, although you have to hold them up for 90% of the day. You push your ‘bump’ out even further and revel in the chance to blurt, “December 5th!” when a passerby asks your due date. You anxiously await all signs of being with child…the bloating, puking, gagging…it’s all cool, b/c you’re maternal and all. Yep. Comes with the territory, so bring on the sore biddies and heightened sense of smell. You record every hiccup, and you can count down the weeks, days, hours to your next appointment with your ob/gyne. You can’t wait to talk to her about the 1200 new moles on your arms and sternum, peeing in a cup, and showing off your linea nigra. You do your kick counts like a champ and remember how long it’s been since you last felt her move…down to the minute. You reread the same chapter in the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ over and over, b/c you can’t get enough of the authors telling you that your baby is now the size of a pinto bean. You peek forward a chapter and well up with excitement that next week, you’ll be able to add heartburn to your list of possible effects of pregnancy. That does, of course, mean lots and lots of hair on her head, you know. You imagine your child much like a cartoon drawing just kind of hanging out in there, sucking it’s little thumb and smiling at the sound of your voice. Everyone is asking to feel the belly and practically clawing at your sweater for a chance to “feel the baby kick”. Your cell blows up exactly one hour after each prenatal visit with questions from your husband, in-laws, parents, and siblings eager to hear how the new bambino is progressing. You sing to the belly, read to the belly, and rub the belly every chance you get. You are a straight-up pregnancy-obsessed baby-lovin’ mama. Bring on the due date!

Second Baby:

You expect the heartburn by Week 3. You are super excited to give your first peanut a sibling, and this pregnancy already feels totally different than the first, so you convince yourself that it must be the opposite sex, and everyone tells you that is going to be the opposite sex, b/c one of each seems to be the ideal. You expect it all to be on ‘replay’, but, to your surprise, almost nothing seems to feel or happen the same, and you are amazed that you have to reread the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ book again. You skim and skip chapters, b/c you are an ‘expert’ now. You remember to take your single belly picture a day late each week, but baby will never know, right? You’ll just snap a quick shot before eating a pound of bacon for breakfast so that you look the right amount of pregnant in each photo. Your number one mission in this pregnancy is to prepare child numero uno for the arrival of little bambino. You read up on how to introduce your toddler to a new baby, how to potty-train said toddler before baby arrives, when to transition toddler into a toddler bed so as not to permanently damage them emotionally for life, and then head to the Chinese gender predictor, which tells you that you are having a second girl, and you agree with your gut that it must be bogus. You can’t stop eating and your face exploded six months too soon, so this has to be a man-child. Nope. Girl number two. The ‘reveal’ is met with a few tears and “Aww, that’s nice,” b/c everyone is secretly (or not so secretly) pitying your husband. You immediately plan for child number three, b/c society simply cannot function if you dare stop at two children of the same gender. Let’s get this baby out. There’s work to do and now you have nothing blue to shop for. Baby number one will be just fine, b/c you followed all of the advice to the letter, and this isn’t your first rodeo, so we’re good. Let’s roll.

Third Baby:

You take a major ride on the guilt-train, b/c you barely have two minutes to dote on the belly. You forget to sing, read, and rub. Part of you is a little afraid that this may be your last, so you should be savoring every moment and flutter, but you are too busy chasing little people day-in and day-out to really give anything or anyone else much thought. You drag both little people to every appointment, b/c it’s too hard to get them ready and out the door on time, let alone lug them to a sitter for your 20 second appointment. You load up the diaper bag with fruit snacks and M&Ms in hopes that the steady stream of bribery will keep them from paying attention to the weird places you may have to expose whilst sitting beneath a paper gown. You really hope that they don’t try to play ‘baby doctor’ at home and are already imagining the mess of toilet paper as they construct their own ‘baby doctor dresses’ before you catch them trying to poke one another in the bum. You don’t remember to take your belly pictures, b/c you can’t seem to get a moment in the bathroom alone and, let’s face it, you just plain forget. You attribute your lack of anything resembling motivation or nesting to pregnancy brain and sleep deprivation. You’re most-likely correct on that one. Heartburn kicked in on Day Two, and you are rocking your Old Navy maternity leggings before the pink line even dried. You don’t bother caring about cravings or whether or not you are carrying ‘high’ or ‘low.’ This is not your first baby. You are going to stretch beyond all human comprehension, and you are going to eat whatever you want, when you want, and ain’t nobody gonna stop ya. You’re not worried a bit about delivery, b/c you keep hearing jokes about this one ‘just falling out’ and you kind of believe them. Oh yeah, and it’s gonna be a boy this time, b/c that’s what everyone expects. Nope. Girl number three. Ok, you get it. You’re meant to be a girl-mama, and you didn’t need to prep anyone this time for anything, b/c it’s a girls’ world around here anyway. No biggie.

Fourth Baby:

Fourth baby? Fourth baby?! Hubby is going to pass out or run away. He thought you were ‘done’, but God had another plan. So do all of the older ladies at Target. They keep asking you if you are going to ‘try for that boy’ and they send their condolences to your husband. You spend your days answering questions with, “Yes, they’re all mine.” “No, they are not twins.” “Yep. All girls.” “Full hands, full heart, right.” You stroll around the grocery store fearing that people are thinking that maybe you’re in need of a television, or assuming that you’re just the knocked up nanny for a rich doctor. After all, none of your kids actually look like you. You are happy to flash your wedding ring at every turn and drop lines about ‘homeschool’, so that at least they take you as one of those ‘religious’ people that ‘like having babies.’ Maybe you should invest in a ’19 and Counting’ t-shirt or something. (I’m picking on stereotypes here, b/c you know they exist!) You forget your doctor appointments and search frantically for your appointment card in the big pile of mess that once resembled an overly-organized diaper bag of a mom with too much time on her hands. Now you’re lucky if there’s actually a diaper and wipes in there beneath the old cheerios, church bulletins, one shoe, and used Kleenex. You have to count in your planner to figure out how many weeks you are, and you save the Baby Center emails in the event that you forget how many days you have left to get the nursery ready. You haven’t begun to transition or potty-train the last child, and the thought of the newest addition refusing a crib actually brings you some comfort, b/c it buys you at least six more months to actually get her room ready. Oh yeah, that’s right, “she”, b/c of course it’s another girl. You don’t think to mention it, b/c no one bothers to ask this time. No one asks to feel your baby kick, and the post-appointment-play-by-play to your family members that was your first pregnancy is a distant memory. You know…the numerous texts you received an hour after each doctor visit, “How was it?” “How’s baby?” “What was the heart rate?” Yeah. That probably doesn’t happen anymore, so don’t be alarmed. They know when the baby is due and they’ll just catch up with you at the hospital after she’s here.  Of course your entire crew still accompanies you to the doctor visits.  You try to contain them, but you never remember to stock the bag with bribes and your only goal is to leave with all persons accounted for and no one having played in the biohazardous waste bin.  And belly pictures?  What belly pictures?  On her third birthday, you’ll sort through photos to fill in a page every 6 weeks or so.  You know that one taken on Christmas morning?  You’re not wearing a bra and still in your pajamas, but your huge bump is half visible beneath the two kids crawling across your lap.  Yep.  that one works perfectly for, oh I don’t know, say…Week 32?  Great!

And while you realize that many things change as you add more babies to your nest, and people don’t react or behave the way that you wish they would… One thing remains the same, and it’s the most important…

Whether it’s child One or child Ten…

That baby is wanted, loved, and will grow your heart in ways that you could never have imagined. Your quiver won’t be the only thing that is full, and every night as you lay them down and kiss their sweet faces, you’ll find yourself whispering, “Thank you, Jesus. My cup overflows.”

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Respect for the “Solo” Mama and 5 Things that Keep This One Sane…

I must say… I have such a new level of respect for the “solo” mama.  I’m not going to go as far as to say “single”, because I know you can be married and still spend the majority of your time parenting alone.  And by “alone”, you know what I mean, right?  Like, physically the only adult in the picture, hands-on.

My husband has been traveling more this year than I ever thought he would.  The weeks are long, and the nights are longer.  With three little ones under the age of five and being almost six months pregnant, I am well out of steam by 10am Monday morning.  That makes for a looong week when the hubs is off daddy-duty, friends.

I thank God for my mom popping in a couple of times here and there on those weeks to drop something off for our business (Eden Gray Clothing) or to bring lunch or dinner on a whim.  She babysits full-time for my brother, so I can’t steal her away for long, but if it weren’t for her little visits, I would surely unravel by Friday.

This last trip of his, I found myself thinking a lot about single moms and military mamas or wives of other men that spend more than the tolerable time (for a wife) at the workplace – doctors, fellow travelers, etc.  some of us women spend a lot of time parenting alone, and it’s hard!

My hat goes off to you, mamas!  God bless you with a visitor, a nap, a phone call from a friend, a surprise meal…
God bless you with sanity!

And on that note…here are some things that I have gotten into the habit of doing to keep my sanity with these little, needy, beautiful, dear souls entrusted to me when the days are extra long and tiring…

1 – Say “I love you.” A lot.  Especially when you want to throw them outside but can’t (because it’s raining or freezing or dark… haha).
My husband has called me in total frustration in the past, “Where are you?!  How much longer?!  Are you almost home?!  I can’t take any more of this!  You were made for this!  God gave you more patience than me!”,  and the list goes on.  Ever get those same calls or texts while you were simply making a grocery run?  haha  Yep.  Made for this.  Well, maybe that’s it, because I’d like to believe that I am “made for” this mothering thing, but I admit that I lose my cool with the kids just like Dad does.  I get tired and frustrated too.  The whining…the tattling…the constant requests…it can be like nails on a chalkboard at times, but… I still adore them, and telling them out loud does something to my soul.  It resets my nerves and gets my focus back on track.

I first noticed it when my second was a newborn.  I remember she was up, miserable, crying incessantly one night.  I had a bad cold, and she was nearly brand-new.  It was late, like 3am, and I wanted so badly to just lay her down in her crib, shut the door and go to bed.  I didn’t.  Instead, I remember standing in our living room, holding her unhappy self in my arms and just saying over and over, “I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”  I’d kiss her forehead and say it, and you know what, it’s when I feel the least “together” that the “I love you” wants to flow out of me the most.  It has become my grounding mechanism.  Whispering “I love you” to your child when aggravated is like a soothing force over a weary mind.

2 – Touch them.
Now, not in the spanking sense that you may want to gravitate towards when they are acting up, but rather, get down on one knee if you can, and touch their arm, their hands, their face…  make a connection with your eyes and your hands.

I just used this method today.  My child was acting up badly.  She shoved her little sister right in front of me and was sent immediately to “time out”.  “Time out” was going poorly too.  She was standing on the chair, jumping out of the chair, touching things on the table beside her that she wasn’t allowed to be touching, sticking her tongue out.  She was acting rotten to put it plainly.  All of that bought her extra time of course, which was explained to her over her 11 minute stay in isolation (normally 5, because she’s just seven weeks shy of her 5th birthday).

My frustrated self wanted to scream, wanted to demand that she go and take a nap… but, I also could realize that she was acting this way for a few possible reasons:  she’s tired after school and refuses to fall asleep for naptime after lunch, she was up several times throughout the night and went to bed later than usual, she was feeling unhappy/grumpy about something that happened at school, and she was arguing with her sister (who was still trying to mock her from the other room)…  So, after her ‘time out’, I called her sister over, dropped to my knees and took them both by the hand.

My physical touch helped to hold their undivided attention.  I didn’t have to squeeze or hold them in place, I just held their hands and told them to listen to my words and look at my eyes.  I kept my expectations brief and simple:

“Mommy has to finish some work, and I have to clean up the house.  I need you to play quietly (because the baby was sleeping) and nicely together, or you will have to go to your bedroom.  No fighting.  No yelling.  No walking or jumping on the couch.  Do you understand?”


That was over an hour ago, and I haven’t had to yell at them or break up one argument since.  A soft but firm tone and a gentle touch that says, “I love you, but I mean business” seems to go far most of the time.

3 – Keep the house straightened up.
I know – you want to smack me, right?  Yeah.  I get it.  I can’t stand cleaning up this house every day.  I think of how much simpler it was when we were selling our last home and 85% of our belongings were boxed up and out-of-sight.  Life was so less cluttered and so was my mind!  Now, these little tornadoes are just that…tornadoes.

I am tempted to just let it go…let it be.  After all, you can only do so much, right?  Especially when you are the only parent at home for an extended time, but I have learned the hard way that when I “let it go”, I pay with my sanity.  The mountain on the kitchen island…the random piles of laundry…the dishes calling my name…the sea of crumbs on the floor…  they take my anxiety level from bad to oh-my-gosh-help-me-get-out-of-this-nightmare-worse.  Seriously.  When you are tired and stressed, the last thing you need is to also feel like you are living in an episode of “Hoarders”.

So, I adopted the motto:  A clean home is a calm home.

I fail at keeping the place looking top-notch, and I never accomplish as much as I wish that I could, but I force myself to clean something before carting myself off to the couch or the bed.  I may not tackle every area, but generally tidying up the house each evening does wonders for my soul come morning.

4 – Read to them
Nothing calms my nerves more than sitting down on the couch with my favorite blondies snuggled beside me and a book in my lap.  When they are super tired (and I am super tired), they will happily sit at my side for an hour at times.  Just sit there.  No fussing, no whining, no fighting.  A few times, I have gotten lucky and our story time has led to a late afternoon movie and a couch nap!  Seriously though, if your babes are tired, but fight sleep like mine, have a story time with them and enjoy the chance to sit quietly together while they calm down and you recharge.

5 – Play with them / get silly   
My kids just want my attention (don’t all kids want that from their parents 24/7?).

When I am flying solo or having a lousy day, sometimes, I just stop whatever it is that I am doing and play with them.  A lot of their play time is with one another.  I try to play, but they leave me in their dust!  (I am pregnant, remember? lol) But even if my body could keep up, often my imagination can’t!  I have noticed that on the rough days, just being there – on the floor, in the same room – they will calm down, and everyone (especially me) starts to smile a little more. It resets the mood of the day.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I am about to lose my mind, if I actually let my grumpy guard down and succumb to the madness – SING a song that they love in a goofy voice, act out the scene of a favorite movie, talk to them with an English accent, anything remotely goofy… my mood improves immediately.  Life gets better immediately!  Yes, the mess is still surrounding me.  Yes, dinner is still needing to be prepared.  Yes, the garbage still needs taken out.  But, I am soooo much calmer and ready to tackle my tasks and mother appropriately when the “reset” button is hit.  Bringing out my inner “fun mom” helps tremendously.

So those are a few of the ways that I maintain my sanity as an overworked, overtired, pregnant mama of little people.  How about you?  What are your go-to methods / sanity-saving practices?  I would love to hear about them!












Update: Since writing this article, we have added to our crew! Our fourth daughter was born in 2015, and, while my husband has a new job that requires less travel, I feel the need to reread this post and follow my advice daily! Four kiddos, six and under, is exhausting!

Remember, keep your love on, keep your perspective in check, drop the perfection, and just breathe.

You’ve got this, Mama. I know you do. xoxo


5 things i’ve learned from our gender reveal party

yesterday, we found out the sex of our 5th baby. (we have three amazing daughters and one baby in heaven due to a miscarriage in 2010.) knowing that this would *probably* (hubs would say *absolutely*) be our last time experiencing the thrill of finding out if the little person fluttering around inside is male or female, i convinced him to let me host a little get-together. we kept it simple – parents and siblings (along with our nieces and nephews).

we found out the way that we always have. i purchased two scrapbooking stickers from michael’s. one read: “baby girl”, the other “baby boy”. we asked the ultrasound technician to place the correct sticker in an envelope that i had prepared ahead of time. i always write the date on the envelope along with the words, “baby d number _ is a…”, and then, i put the sticker in their baby book later on. after the appointment, we sit together in the car and open it in private. i love that we created a tradition for ourselves and stuck to it.

as far as the party and how to reveal, i had seen so many great ideas via facebook announcements and pinterest. my youngest brother used the balloons-coming-out-of-a-box technique. my other brother just revealed that they are having a girl using the hidden pink icing in a cupcake idea, and my sister-in-law used the confetti in the popped balloons technique to reveal that they were having a boy. i was stumped. 

one of my sisters-law-in found the silly string reveal on pinterest and i was sold. (you buy either pink or blue silly string, and cover the outside somehow. i used spray paint to cover the cans, and we just left the colored caps in the garage. then you spray whomever with the spray. we chose to squirt our kiddos. God bless them. sweet, tolerant, forgiving babies.)

all of that said, here are five things that i have learned through our ‘gender reveal’:

1) they are fun! seriously, it was a blast. to see our parents and siblings standing all together waiting for the news. that was special. i regret having never done it before. it will be remembered forever.

2) along those lines, i tried to remember how we told our family members after previous ultrasounds, and you know what? i can’t remember! terrible, right?! when we were told that our first was a girl, we took a little girl’s outfit and a little boy’s outfit over to my in-laws’ and had them pick which they thought, and then we held up the right choice. i remember that experience well, b/c it was a sort of mini reveal gathering, but for all of the other children, i think we just called or texted right away. can you say “boring”?! yep.  i’m so glad that we chose to have one!

3) the third thing that i figured out via the big reveal…i wish i was on the receiving side of the surprise! waiting…anticipating what color was about to shoot out of those little cans… so exciting! i hope everyone enjoyed it as much as i imagine i would have, had i been in their shoes.

4) even if you or your spouse thinks that they are “silly” or “a waste of time/money”, go for it. i know you’ll be glad that you did. we had ours following dinner. i made cupcakes as a snack and had a big pitcher of sweet tea out. everyone just helped themselves. we had our reveal in the yard and then visited for a little while afterwards. it was simple, inexpensive, and most importantly, special. there are so few times in life in which we are granted the opportunity to make a lasting memory with our loved ones – weddings, family vacations, graduations, birthdays…why not carve out a little time to celebrate something as wonderful as that newest member of the family? i mean, other than a baby shower (and most people only get one for their first child), not much happens in the form of an official celebration during the pregnancy. obviously this only applies if you chose to find out the gender (and i actually didn’t want to this time, but hubby wins. always.), but if you do find out, i say go for it! have a little party!

5) and finally, the last thing that was impressed upon me now that i’ve had a reveal party…if your children are involved, aka going to be used as props, haha, make sure to do a few things first. remind them what it is that you’re actually doing. a three-year-old isn’t going to remember that the party is to find out if they are expecting a brother or a sister, or that pink means girl, blue means boy, and they certainly won’t ‘get it’ when you zip them in the forehead with a high-powered stream of foam without a warning reminder as to what is about to happen to them. i’m sure that between the excitement of the crowd and the crazy snakelike objects flying at their eyeballs, they were thinking, “run for your life!” well, ava actually did run.  i think that isla was stunned, and eden broke out in a full panic-cry. mission accomplished, mom and dad. j/k! that aspect was a total mom-fail! in our haste to start the fun, we completely forgot to give the girls a refresher. nope. it was all, “ready, aim, FIRE!” poor things. oh well. what’s done, is done. i’m pretty sure that they forgive us, and now that they know what ‘silly string’ is, they are fans. (ps. the dollar store has multiple colors, and they are of course just $1. a steal compared to target’s can going for $3.50.)

so without further ado…here’s the link to our facebook page where you can find the video. i hope that inspires you to try a reveal of your own! (and i hope you don’t think we are cruel! haha we just got a wee bit excited…)

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a pregnancy ritual and a very intimate detail about ej

hello, friends. you’re probably all asleep as i write this, but i’ve got something on my heart tonight. i just finished my nightly cup of hot tea. it’s a pregnancy ritual that started during my first pregnancy (ava), and is still going strong today. not sure why it’s only during pregnancy, and on the hot, humid, summer nights to boot, but it is. a cup of hot black tea with one tsp. of sugar and a splash of whole milk. my grandma has made us tea that way since i was little, and it is by far my favorite way to drink it. i take my prenatal vitamin with it, brush my teeth and hit the hay. except for tonight, that is – i’m writing this first. and i’ve got about 30 minutes before the vitamin-induced nausea kicks in.

hubby rented ‘heaven is for real’ tonight. i have been wanting to read the book ever since it came out. i don’t know why i haven’t yet. maybe every time i think of it money’s tight or something, but i am going to make a point of buying it now.

i never questioned or doubted this little boy’s story from day one. i believe 100% that heaven is in fact real, so i embraced the movie with my whole, open heart. i didn’t watch it for some cinematic wow.  i watched it with the faith of a child, longing to catch a glimpse of Heaven.  to imagine angels singing, the beauty of every sight, the possibility of seeing Jesus as He really is. breath-taking. so many moments left me in tears – not necessarily sad ones either. i would describe them as being similar to tears of feeling overwhelmed. like when you bring your new baby home, and emotion just hits you, and you can’t do anything but cry…those kind of tears.

the part that caught my heart and attention the most, however, was the scene in which he tells his mom about his heaven-sister (seen in part in the trailer below). i.broke. bawled like a baby. wept. my husband looked over at me, like he often does during intense or moving scenes, and he knew what to expect. my face buried in my hands, eyelids clenched so hard, silent sobs and gross sniffles. all i could say between breaths was ‘don’t look at me!’, but a moment later, as i explained myself to him, i realized that i was explaining something to myself at the same time.

‘i’m not crying b/c i am sad. i am crying b/c it is so awesome.’

‘extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.’


God, you are awesome.
the fact that our ej is in Heaven with you, growing, thriving, constantly and eternally surrounded by joy, peace, beauty, angels, love…everything wonderful…that is awesome. that throws me to my knees inside. how incredible is the God we have?!

i don’t want to give the entire scene away, but i have to include this, b/c it is so powerful and why i am writing this post. the mother asks her son for his heaven-sister’s name, and he tells her something along the lines of, ‘she doesn’t have one. you never gave one to her.’ she agrees, saying that he was right, and that they didn’t know if she was in fact a he or she.

i think that was the moment that broke me.  i know it was.  it brought back my dream of ej. do you remember? you can read that post afterwards {here}, if you’d like. i want to tell you something that i have only ever told my husband.

ej is a daughter, and i believe her name is jade.

when i first lost the baby, i told myself many things to ease the pain and silence the ‘whys’. one of the lies i tried to buy was, ‘the baby was a boy, and maybe my body just can’t carry boys.’ lie. in a sense, i was cursing myself, speaking limits over my God-given body and eliminating the thought of ever carrying a son. the brain can think pretty irrational things when your heart is being torn. now, 10 wks pregnant with our fifth child, i am confident that there is a great chance that this is a son, and that this pregnancy will be healthy, regardless.

one thing this lie caused me to do was doubt – doubt the reality of my dream and doubt God’s message to my aching heart. i asked my husband when we were out to dinner last year for ej’s birthday celebration what he really thought – do you think ej is a boy or a girl? he said with absolute certainty, ‘girl’. even in that moment, three years after God speaking to me so clearly in that dream, i waivered. i wanted to put my trust in Him completely; i wanted to believe that what happened was so real, but there was still that little sliver of doubt lingering in the back of my mind. after tonight, He reminded me so strongly of my dream and the tender way He introduced me to the truth. i am so grateful for that encounter, and i will not be afraid to put total trust in what He told me anymore. ej is a baby girl and her name is jade.

i am sure we will call her ej forever, b/c that’s what we have called her and what the girls are growing up calling her, but it means something to me to tell you about her fully and to confess my fear and doubt to you. i hope our story encourages you. i hope it grows your faith. most importantly, i hope it reminds you that you have a loving Father in Heaven who knows you, understands your heart’s cry, and longs to speak to you.

and if you have a heaven-baby – a miscarriage, a stillbirth, an abortion – name him/her. your baby is alive and well, waiting to see you someday, and you, as his/her mother/father, have been given the awesome gift of bestowing a name. thinking again about that movie, his sister had aged, she was probably at least six, i would guess, and she did not have a name. the Lord, in His power, did not assign her a name. that floored me. even in eternity, He seems to say,’ your mother and father will give you a name, and even if it takes several decades, it doesn’t matter, b/c i know you.’ He knows the name, but it’s our gift to give it. let that sink in.

and just as an aside, b/c i don’t take it lightly, if you have experienced abortion, i pray that Holy Spirit would visit you right now, that He would minister to your heart, heal your deepest wounds, and lift the heaviest of burdens from your heart. you are forgiven, and you are not any less loved or adored by Jesus. i pray that you would come to that understanding and that you would have peace. you cannot change the past, but you have the gift of the future. you have the gift of dreams each night and endless opportunities for God to visit you and speak gently to your spirit. you have the gift of meeting your little one in Heaven one day. live like it. think like it. smile b/c of it. the story doesn’t end here. we don’t end here, and they didn’t end there.

well, thanks for allowing me to share this intimate part of my story with you. be blessed. until next time…

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meet my person

today marks a special day. today is my mom’s birthday, so happy birthday, mama! we’re getting pedicures together this evening to celebrate, and i am really looking forward to spending some quality time with her.

Mema with baby Isla

today is also special, b/c i would like to introduce you to my little person, ‘encore baby’.

this little person of mine is 9 wks today 

(the ultrasound was done last week at 7wks, 6 days).

there was a chance that we were ‘done’, but i’m obviously glad we’re not, b/c this feels so meant-to-be. of course, i think every child created is meant-to-be, even if things don’t go as planned. this little surprise is why we decided to go ahead and transition isla into ava’s room, creating a ‘sister space’, (if you follow us on instagram, you’ve seen a photo or two).  eden will eventually graduate to isla’s old room, freeing up eden’s nursery for this little friend.

so, what do you think, will klover house welcome its first son, or do you think we will become a household of four little sisters? 😉 it’s fun to imagine either scenario. we honestly don’t care one way or another, but the mister is calling ‘boy’ this time around. we shall see!

happy thursday, everyone. don’t give up on your heart’s desires. you just never know what miracles are in store for you.


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pin-it party and how one blogger plans to lose her baby weight!

welcome back, pin-it party friends! if this is your first time joining us, welcome to you as well! glad you have stopped by! i am sure that you will find many great things here!

one of last saturday’s most-viewed pins was this one, ‘my losing the baby weight game plan’, from georgia of oatmeal smiles. like many other women, i can completely relate to this post! i had my eden grace 14 months ago, and i am still 10lbs over my goal weight. it seems like these last 10lbs just won’t budge, and they are mostly lingering in my mid-section and thighs. i personally struggle with these things: (1)motivation/discipline, (2)time management, and (3)a nasty little thing called adenomyosis, which makes my ‘normal’ uterus more like a 3-month-pregnant one that being the case, i really need to buckle down and trim my stomach in a healthy and lasting way. i love georgia’s manageable and honest approach. thanks for sharing, georgia! i am inspired!

participating in the party is so easy!
here’s what to do:

1. follow the co-hosts on pinterest (links below)

paula from beauty through imperfection

becky from your modern family

gabrielle from MamaGab

me! kristi from klover house

2. pin our “pin-it party” picture. (one of these)

3. add as many of your great pins as you want!  remember to get your pins from pinterest & not from your blog page. it will make it easier to re-pin a pin instead of a post.

4. hop around and re-pin other pins from this page- lets share the love!

5. adding your link gives us permission to use an image from the pin (or post connected to the pin) to feature on next week’s pin-it party. because of this we ask that you only link up images from your own site, and images that you have taken, created or have legal rights to.

thanks!!!! REMEMBER: when it asks for your NAME, you can put your PIN NAME or your BLOG NAME. essentially, it’s your pin’s title.

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